Nov. 13, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is hosting a town hall meeting next month in Maspeth, following accusations made over the summer of grade fixing and cheating at Maspeth High School.
The town hall will focus on issues pertaining to the 55 public schools located within Community Education District 24, which covers the neighborhoods of Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at P.S./I.S. 58 School of Heroes, located at 72-24 Grand Ave. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by Community Education Council 24’s monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m.
The town hall comes on the heels of Council Member Robert Holden’s call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate allegations of grade-fixing throughout New York City public schools.
Holden’s concerns were first sparked this summer when a group of former Maspeth High School teachers told his office that the school’s administrators encouraged students to cheat on classwork and Regents exams. They also said the high school had an unwritten “no fail” policy, whether or not students attended class.
According to city data, 98 percent of Maspeth High School students graduated within four years in 2018, compared to the city-wide average of 76 percent.
The Department of Education (DOE) is investigating the claims of grade-fixing at the school, with its Office of Special Investigations conducting a probe. The Queens District Attorney is overseeing the investigation.
The alleged grade-fixing at Maspeth High School was not an isolated incident, Holden said. He wrote a letter to U.S. Attorneys Geoffrey Berman and Richard Donoghue on Oct. 25 calling for an investigation of the DOE. He said the issue is widespread across city schools.
“Other whistleblowers have come forward to tell me that this is happening in schools across the city,” Holden wrote.
He added that DOE data shows that many city schools pass nearly all their students in math and English, yet a much smaller percentage of their students pass state exams.
For example, every student at Harbor Heights middle school in Manhattan passed their English core classes, yet just 7 percent passed the state English exam in 2018. In the Bronx, 94 percent of P.S./I.S. 224 students passed their math core classes and just 2 percent passed the state math exam the same year. The large disparities were first reported by the New York Post.
“To me, that suggests that standards have been lowered in the classrooms, and individual school administrations may even be passing students that haven’t performed well or learned much of anything,” Holden wrote.
He said when he brought this up to Carranza in both a letter and a personal meeting at the Chancellor’s office in May, Carranza “completely ignored my concerns.”